Lovell Johns is a cartographic and GIS company founded in 1965. Lovell Johns is a leading UK mapping company providing GIS and other map services to the public sector, publishers and all sizes of business.Keep up to date with the Lovell Johns blog to find out the latest news from the mapping Industry.
The process of map making has changed hugely in the last 50 years and many original skills are now obsolete.
However, it is always interesting to look back to the ‘good old days’ and see how a drawing office would operate before we were all sat at computers. This blog explores five items that are now no longer in use in the map making production process.
This involved the use of a three-legged tool with a precise, interchangeable point, usually made of industrial sapphire, which was used to engrave a line on a special material to create a negative for print. Any errors in linework would have to be corrected with a special fluid or a Rotring pen and the draughtsperson had to have a very steady hand to precisely follow the linework.
2. Dark rooms
Every cartographic office had a dark room, where film was processed and negatives were exposed to make printing plates. Always marked with a red light outside the room, to indicate that the room was in darkness, repro staff would work in perpetual gloom and woe betide the person who accidentally opened the door!
3. Waxed Type
Sheets of type on a removable film would be received from the typesetter and run through a machine, looking like a laminator, which was filled with melted wax and then transferred onto the film. Words on the sheet could then be cut individually and placed on the map sheet in position, then smoothed down with a ‘boner’ tool to remove the excess wax from behind the film. One of the perils of cartography in this era was finding a random word stuck to your arm at the end of the day and having to work out where it came from.
4. Negatives and duffing fluid
The processing of large pieces of film inevitably leaves some light spots on a negative, which had to be removed by ‘duffing’ out the holes in the black coating before printing plates could be made. This involved mixing up a thick solution to paint onto the negative, or, for the more modern, a red coloured pen. Many hours were spent hunched over a light table looking for light spots shining through.
5. Rotring pens
The staple piece of equipment for any cartographer, available with a variety of different nib sizes, these are ink pens giving a precise line. The finer the nib, the more frequently it became blocked and had to be stripped down to its component parts and flushed with water. The more stubborn blockage had to be dealt with in a small vibrating bowl to loosen the dried ink. Any decent cartographer will have a series of finger ‘tattoos’ where they have broken the skin with a nib.
So, the good old days – messy, dark and fraught with hazards. Certainly very different to the clean, bright offices full of screens that we have today.
A publisher can be defined as ‘a company or person that prepares and issues books, journals, or music for sale’. As cartographers, we talk to publishers every day as they seek our specialist skills in map making, from including one or two maps in a specific chapter through to requiring hundreds of consistently presented map plates for a new world atlas. In this article, we take a quick look at the diverse range of mapping solutions for publishers we offer and some publishers who are seek our map creation and design expertise.
Guide and Travel Book Publishers
Travel guide publishers have always made use of maps to help the reader with navigation and orientation around a town, city or country and such maps are often loaded with information on places of interest, transportation or specific activities. In recent years, adventure travel has become very popular with specialist publishers providing guide books on walking and hiking activities across the globe. As an example, Cicerone publish more than 290 guides and use mapping as an important component in their books. Cicerone use a royalty free map base which can be edited and enhanced with the author’s routes and other locally sourced data.
An example of activity guides mapping for Cicerone
General atlas publishers feature mapping as a key element of their publication and usually therefore have many decisions to make on scoping, pagination and layout prior to any cartographic design work being undertaken. For example, a traditional World or European reference atlas will need to address the map projection but also how different scales and levels of detail will be used in different sections in the publication.
An example of atlas mapping for publisher Philips
Publishers are also using mapping in thematic atlases where cartographic design is used, often in combination with statistical information, to convey a particular a message or theme. A thematic atlas may focus on a single topic and geography, for example the Soil Atlas of Latin America and Caribbean, or maybe a consolidated reference on different types of data such as the New Views Atlas from Aurum Press.
An example of thematic mapping for publisher Aurum Press
Educational publishers specialise in publishing materials for primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, where textbooks and course content require maps or a series of maps to enable student learning. Oxford University Press, a leading authority in educational publishing, produce over 6,000 titles annually and are using mapping heavily in their range of Geography GCSE textbooks. The colourful maps, designed for the relevant student age group, are published for specific exam boards to tight academic year publishing deadlines.
An example of mapping for Oxford University Press
Not all publishers are corporate houses or SMEs employing teams of staff. Maps are also commissioned by individuals who need to bring in cartographic design expertise to bring their project to life. Such commissions are usually for non-fiction texts and often require close ongoing consultation with the client to get to the end result. Such mapping projects can often begin with hand drawn sketches from the client as the information is unique and can only be provided from a personal perspective.
Mapping for self publishing
At Lovell Johns, we’ve been producing maps for publishers since the business was formed over 50 years ago. Over the decades, we have worked for most of the major publishing houses, across many different genres. Our business was actually founded in 1965, in order to produce a set of city atlases for the publisher, the Historic Towns Trust. Today, we are still making maps for an ever-widening range of publishers including specialist walking guides, historical reference books, thematic atlases, educational texts and self-published books.
Five sectors increasingly using drones for survey and mapping purposes
Drones have been in the news a lot recently, not least for causing 36 hours of chaos including the cancellation of about 1,000 commercial flights. There are also widespread privacy concerns as well as worries about lack of regulation. You could be forgiven for supporting a blanket ban on the flying of drones.
However, they are in fact being used for important applications and especially for mapping solutions. Also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), they can capture high resolution imagery and carry a wealth of other technology to support 3D laser mapping and analysis of the physical characteristics of the land beneath them. Here are five sectors increasingly using drones for survey and mapping services.
Drones are replacing traditional survey methods in the construction industry. 3D maps can now be made of the site before a design has been made. Once construction starts, drones are also used to monitor progress, spot potential problems and assist with site management. Whether that’s using them as a means of staying in constant contact at worksites, facilitating accurate surveillance and timely data gathering, the presence of drones in the construction industry can very quickly become a game changer.
Drones are relatively cheap and quick to deploy. Combine this with the use of thermal and spectral light sensors, and you have the potential for farmers to analyse the growth of their crops and irrigation. Particular areas in fields that are causing a problem can be investigated and addressed to increase yield.
Flying a UAV over marked territories can also be used outside of mapping solutions, to track and monitor livestock. Using GPS to track livestock is not entirely a new concept, but now farmers wouldn’t need to physically go to the animal to inspect it, increasing their efficiency.
Quarry operators are increasingly using drones to regularly carry out site surveys which can be compared over time. Accurate 3D models of quarries can be used to help blast planning, calculate the volume of stockpiles and assess drainage.
4. Environmental protection
Being able to quickly deploy a drone over flooded areas means the effectiveness of river and flood defences can be studied in detail. In addition, the results of drone surveys can also be used to assess forests, coastal areas, glaciers and even animal movements.
Aerial imagery has always been useful in the discovery and investigation of archaeological sites, particularly during periods of dry weather when cropmarks or soilmarks can highlight archaeological features. Drones can be used to investigate sites in detail when required, including the use of 3D laser mapping to detect subtle earthworks. Drones are being increasingly employed to create maps, surveys and 3D models of the world around us to enable more efficient management of the rural and urban environments.
The European Union has not always consisted of the 28 member states that you find today.
As Brexit is now on the distant horizon in March 2019 and debates are currently under way in Parliament on how to exit the European Union, we thought we might look at how we got here, from a geographic point of view.
The EU has increased in size by new countries that have joined in the last 60 years, from the post-war beginnings of 6 initial members, through to the 28 members we know of today. Take a look at the map below to see how they joined over time or read about it below.
The First 6
The first 6 countries forming the EU were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Following the founding of the Council of Europe in 1949 by the Treaty of London which focused primarily on human rights and democracy, these six nations decided to go further by forming the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952.
By 1957, the six had signed the Treaty of Rome, one of two treaties forming the constitutional basis of the European Union.
The First Enlargement
In 1973 the first 6 nations were joined by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom bringing the membership to nine.
The second enlargement
In 1981 Greece joins the EU, taking total membership to 10 nations.
The Third Enlargement
In 1986, Spain and Portugal become members.
The Fourth Enlargement
In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty was made effective, establishing the early framework for a common currency, the Euro. This was still in early planning at the time. In 1995, the members were joined by Sweden, Austria and Finland in 1995, bringing the total number to fifteen. Membership in the EU now covered most of Western Europe.
The Fifth and largest Enlargement
The 15 members were joined by Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, bringing total membership to 25.
The Sixth enlargement
Bulgaria and Romania join the EU bringing membership to 27.
The Seventh enlargement
Croatia became the 28th member of the EU in 2013. As of November 2018 Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are candidate countries to join the European Union.
Name changes can have quite an impact on map making and cartography
When a country decides to change its name, the impact is huge across a wide range of administrative platforms. From airline names to national sports kits, there is generally an upheaval but have you ever considered how this affects the world of map making?
The BBC reported that King Mswati of Swaziland officially changed the name of the country to The Kingdom of eSwatini’ at an event celebrating 50 years of the country’s independence. Although we at Lovell Johns will wait until the name is officially adopted by the United Nations, we have several versions of our world map, as well as continental maps of Africa that would need to be updated. Our maps with flags would also have to be reordered alphabetically, which is generally a time-consuming process. We’ve spoken before about how updates to maps and atlases are a continuous challenge.
eSwatini is just the latest in a list of name changes that have had to be actioned. Name changes do not necessarily affect world mapping as they may be on a more local level, but some of the more publicised of these are below.
The former Czech Republic adopted the shorter name form in May 2016 as a ‘catchy alternative’ but it has failed to catch on, with many of its inhabitants still referring to the original name. The United Nations did adopt the new name however, so that is how it is shown on maps.
The largest impact on world mapping was the independence of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, necessitating the addition of a new country border, country and capital.
Samoa and Tokelau
In 2011, Samoa and Tokelau switched to the western side of the International Date Line, so this feature had to be redrawn to accommodate this.
Bombay changed its name to Mumbai in 1995, due to an association with British rule. Over the past 20 years, Indian cities have seen even more name changes. To the east, Calcutta changed to Kolkata and as late as four years ago, Bangalore changed its name to Bengaluru.
Some of these can catch us out. In December 2015, the Republic of the Gambia changed its name to the Islamic Republic of the Gambia and changed it back again to the original form in January 2017.
So, the next time you see an article about a location changing its name, spare a thought for the mapmakers, who will have to change maps in order to keep them up to date!
The world is constantly changing, and as cartographers, it can be a challenge keeping up with current events and the impact on map making.
We thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few events that have recently been in the news, that may have implications for map makers and cartographers alike.
1. Nobody puts the Shetlands in a corner
In October 2018, it was announced that official bodies must show the position of the Shetland Islands in their correct geographic location on maps of the UK. The more standard placement of the Shetlands in an inset box is deemed to be a “geographic mistake”. The islands are 152 miles from the Scottish mainland and will reduce a map of the U.K. by approximately 20% in order to accommodate showing the islands in their correct relative position.
2. Map Printing in China
Any maps scheduled to be printed in China have to go through strict checking to ensure they are compliant with the Government’s guidelines on how the country is displayed. This measure has been taken from January 2018. All maps of China, whether a country map or a world map, must be approved by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, a process which can take up to a year to gain approval. This has led to some Chinese publishers omitting maps of the country in order to avoid this process.
3. The Irish Hard Border
With the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union, the Republic of Ireland will remain in the EU and will therefore be impacted by customs and immigration checks between the two countries. As discussions are still ongoing at this stage on the finer points of Brexit, it is not known how this will affect travel but the potential introduction of a ‘hard’ border is a sensitive issue. There are currently 275 border crossings but these are all seamless points and may need to be blocked or have passport- and customs-controlled posts. How this will be represented on maps is yet to be decided.
4. How a map projection can distort perceptions
After the outcome of the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, various media sources reported that the map used by the BBC Weather programme had an influence in voting behaviour in the referendum. The original map used since 2005 used a projection which reduced the relative size of Scotland and exaggerated the south, that allegedly may have subconsciously made a country seeking independence, seem smaller.
The same opinion was echoed by then SNP MP Paul Monaghan who believed that the BBC had made Scotland “literally less significant” with its choice of projection. The new map (below), introduced in February 2018, has been hailed as more representative of the relative size of Scotland, so who can tell what the impact may be if another referendum is held?
Finally, maps have always been used to illustrate a bias, whether political or cultural. At many points in history, wars have been fought over land ownership and occupation. On a lighter note, the image below is a fun culinary map of Europe.
Visualising historic map data in a modern Geographic Information System (GIS) setting.
It goes without saying that with a rise in technological advancements and shared data, it bears reflection that mapping has come a long way. We thought it might be interesting to take one specific example of mapping diseases in a historic context and see how it might apply to a more modern setting, with the latest tools and innovations GIS mapping has to offer. How might it be planned? Does the original mapping stand the test of time?
Take a look at the map below. We have taken data from John Snow’s map of the 1854 London cholera epidemic to see if we can visualise it in a modern Geographic Information System (GIS) and have also considered how else GIS is used in the mapping of diseases.
The 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak
Soho in London saw a severe outbreak of Cholera in 1854 which killed over 600 people. At the time, the common theory was that it was caused by pollution or ‘foul air’. The physician, John Snow, had already discounted this idea. He talked to local residents and studied the geographical pattern of cholera cases and identified a water pump on Broad Street as the likely source of the disease. He convinced the local council to remove the handle from the suspect pump and this is credited as having ended the epidemic. A later discovery found that the pump was installed only a few feet away from a cesspit.
The distribution map that John Snow produced, showing a black bar for every case of cholera against each property, changed the way that disease was studied. He is regarded as being the founding father of Epidemiology (the analysis of the distribution of health and disease conditions).
Our GIS methodology for mapping diseases
We used GIS to capture the locations of the properties on Johns Snow’s map, and attributed them with the number of cholera cases. We also captured the location of the water pumps in the area. Using Esri’s ArcGIS Pro software, we created a heat map of cholera cases and overlaid it against modern GIS mapping. The conclusion that the water pump (on what is now Broadwick Street) is located towards the centre of the outbreak is clear to see.
More data, more insights
GIS is used in modern epidemiology to understand how and why diseases occur, and also aiding preventative measures. In the case of the 1854 cholera epidemic, information was collected from residents. Nowadays, individuals are still an important source of data collection, but this is now complimented with data from health-care providers which may include a geographic element such as postcode data.
In epidemiology, non-health related data such as environmental factors, population distribution and deprivation are analysed alongside health data. Pollution data, for instance, could be analysed against an epidemic to help rule it out as a factor.
Knowing the location of cesspits before the installation of a water pump would have prevented the 1854 cholera outbreak. Now utilities companies hold accurate GIS data of sewers and drains to aid maintenance and construction planning.
GIS also allows us to communicate theories more clearly and faster than a printed map. For instance, if the dates of disease cases are recorded when they are discovered, then an animated visualisation can be created, showing the spread of a disease over time. In the age of social media, static and interactive maps are also easily shareable.
It isn’t just about analysing historical data either. NASA recently created forecasts of cholera outbreaks in Yemen using spatial information related to environmental conditions, sanitation and clean water infrastructure.
GIS is being used to understand the source and spread of diseases, assisting in the prevention of outbreaks and forecasting areas at risk of epidemics using a range of spatial data.
With an increased appetite for online information on the part of citizens, and a general growth in interactive mapping provision by councils, the way Policies Map information is delivered by councils is changing. With more mapping available through mobile devices on APIs such as Google Maps and Bing Maps, and open source software growth, developers have had more opportunities and routes to explore than ever before. An online Policies Map has the advantage of providing very large scale searchable mapping for the whole of the borough or district that would not be possible for a paper format map and linking this to appropriate planning policies.
What is Planvu?
Planvu is Lovell Johns’ own open source web mapping software that facilitates increased user engagement by providing the public, developers and council staff with free, intuitive mapping information around the clock. Planvu can be updated quickly in comparison to a printed map as solutions hold a library of files which can be easily updated and amended for a new policy or layer of information.
We recently rolled out our latest version of Planvu to London Borough of Enfield Council, providing developers and the local community with a clear guide to planning policies in the Borough.
We’ve come a long way from Version 1, released in 2007, and Lovell Johns currently hosts around 20 Planvu solutions for councils across England and Scotland. Planvu provides an interactive, intuitive map of planning policies all the way down to property level. So one can search for a full address and links to detailed planning policies..
What’s new in Version 3?
We developed Version 3 of Planvu in response to customer feedback, and an increased appetite to use it on the go. Therefore responsive design and increased speed of map information display has been at the heart of the changes. Alongside that, we’ve added the following:
Hiding the Legend Panel
Whether you’re browsing on a mobile device or desktop, viewing the map and getting to the analysis is probably your first priority. We’ve added code to ensure that you can now hide the Legend Panel, so the map fills most of the window as seen below.
Restyled Icons and Buttons
With more user-friendly iconography and better control, you’re better equipped to query policy data, employing several different methods. The icons and buttons on the map interface are quite intuitive, and it’s much easier to manipulate the map, whether you’re plotting specific areas, measuring distances, or just want to examine a particular point more closely. Of course you can completely reset the map as well to its’ original state.
Autocomplete all searches
When you search for a town, postcode or location you can either use the Quick Links panel to get to the area you’re looking for or use the Search function. Just continue typing and Planvu will complete your search query, checking through the database for all possible locations.
An upgrade to technology
The technology underpinning planvu has also been upgraded:
A transition from MapServer to GeoServer providing improved map delivery capabilities
Use of a database-driven solution using PostGIS rather than Shapefiles
The online map has the advantage of linking to specific policy text from embedded links within the map meaning the user can quickly read up on the planning policies applicable at the search point rather than have to refer to a separate document.
We’re very excited to roll out all of these changes, and we’re looking forward to continuing to support Local Government Policies mapping and solutions in the future.
From start to finish, an illustrated mapping process or project gives cartographers a lot to think about.
The first major decision to make when engaging with an illustrator is to decide, in consultation with the client, on the style of mapping they are looking for. Whether it be a unique, hand-drawn watercolour with a great deal of detail, or a more architectural looking map with realistic building facades, this is where a project should begin. The best option is to show a client a wide range of styles and let them choose the most suitable illustrated map for their requirement. There may be constraints of budget, publishing schedule, or the scale of the map and its’ ultimate use, and all these options must be considered.
Lovell Johns have a wide variety of map illustrators and can select from a range of styles to suit a customer’s requirement. We use the examples on our website as well as a catalogue of other maps we have produced as a means to define the type of mapping required and can talk a client through what will be involved with an illustrated map project.
Most illustrators can produce an initial sketch to check the coverage and content of the map area, provided in a variety of ways, from a hand painted base to a digitally created map, depending on the final style. This proof is checked by the client before proceeding to start work on the main map. Additional layers of information are added, such as road networks, icons and 3D buildings. These are usually stored on different layers for flexibility of positioning and further editing. It is important to engage with the client throughout production to ensure that the illustrated map is developing as expected as it can be difficult to make major changes later on in the process.
There are several considerations when considering the commission of an illustrated map:
Where will the map be used; is it for an A5 leaflet or an A0 location board? This will define the resolution and scale of the finished product.
How much detail is required? Can points be shown with symbols, or illustrations? Are 3D buildings a useful enhancement to bring the map to life?
Who is the final user? Does the illustrated map need to be functional for wayfinding on a University campus or can it be more artistic and engaging for a country estate or campsite?
Budget – this may constrain the style of map as hand drawing a lot of individual icons will add to the production costs
After addressing these points, there should be plenty of information to create the perfect illustrated map!
We’ve seen the increase in the development of self-driving cars, but it’s the digital mapping behind them that are the real secret weapon.
With self-driving cars in the news so often, it would be ideal to have a look at the importance of digital mapping data in future navigation systems and why the owners of the maps may end up controlling the future of the automotive industry.
How it works currently
Cars with self-driving capabilities need data, and a lot of it. An array of sensors are required to map the world around it and provide accurate location and movement data. This is all processed by a car’s central computer so it can make split second decisions. But the better the initial digital mapping data, the less data the car will have to process and interpret. The new generation of navigation systems will therefore need to know the precise three dimensional location of features such as:
poles and road signs
traffic signals and pedestrian crossings
filter lanes, cycle lanes and road markings
the line of the curb and crash barriers
Who has the advantage?
Google are positioned well in the industry, having invested heavily in mapping while at the same time developing self-driving car technology. Apple are also out mapping the world to collect data whilst at the same time testing a number of autonomous vehicles in California. Car manufactures are likewise making moves to secure partnerships with mapping companies. As far back as 2015, Volkswagen’s Audi unit, BMW and Daimler decided to join forces to buy Nokia HERE mapping business for a whopping 2 €bn.
It’s widely believed that these companies are currently mapping roads with laser scanners and cameras and using a combination of computer algorithms and manual labour to create the detailed map bases required. The amount of labour required is a closely guarded secret. Here’s a typical output from a laser scanner, courtesy of Oregon State University.
Navigating a minefield
Digital Mapping companies are going to have their work cut out though. For self-driving cars to be a reality, they can’t just concentrate on cities and highways, they need to have comprehensive coverage. The cost to keep such mapping data up-to-date will also likely be huge. Cars themselves could help in his capacity, surveying as they drive. However the amount of data to be ‘uploaded’ to the cloud and analysed could well prove the idea unworkable.
With such accurate and detailed data, other unexpected factors also start to play a part. In 2016, Australia announced it was going to simply shift its GPS coordinate system by 1.8 metres (about the width of the average car). The reason? The country moves around 7 cm north every year due to tectonic plate movements.
So the creation and continuous maintenance of accurate and up-to-date digital mapping data for navigation in the future may ultimately make or break the involvement of certain companies in the self-driving car industry.
Maps it would therefore appear, are as important as the development of the technology itself.